An MR reader sends me this request:
You land in a new city – an urban area – without other commitments.
What’s the first thing you do?
What’s your first day look like?
The first thing I do is make sure blog is ready for the day to come (though that is usually pre-arranged if I am traveling).
The second thing I do is decide whether the country is worth wasting a meal on breakfast. I might just skip it. If not, the next thing I will do is get breakfast. I evaluate breakfast options by walking and by sight, not by using the internet, as I find that old-fashioned method better training for all that life brings us.
Then I try to walk through at least two neighborhoods, to get a general sense of the city. More importantly, I can then later take some time over lunch without feeling I haven’t seen anything yet. These neighborhoods should be connected to the main drag in some way but not the main drag itself. The main drag is often boring, though essential, and it is more likely to get a fuller treatment on day two, with only a quick peek on day one.
The best art museum will come after lunch, and then be followed by more neighborhood walking, perhaps in a more distant part of the city. A major food market will come on day two, a vista or city lookout will come on day three. It means less if I go to either right away, because I have less information about what I should be noticing and looking for.
The real question is what to postpone, not what to do. Don’t attempt the most fully integrative experiences right off the bat, because you are squandering some of their potency.